Cognitive dissonance theory - Essay Example

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Author Tutor Course Date Cognitive Dissonance Theory Introduction Cognitive dissonance theory is a communication theory adopted from social psychology as advanced by Leon Festinger. Cognitive dissonance details psychological conflict from holding two or more incompatible beliefs at the same time…
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Download file to see previous pages Cognitive dissonance is a term employed to describe the state of having two or more conflicting cognitions simultaneously, as people experience new information in the context of their pre-existing knowledge (Festinger 10). Individuals experience psychological discomfort when they encounter information that challenges their beliefs or behavior. Discussion Cognitive dissonance theory pursues to explain how individuals minimize psychological discomfort and attain emotional equilibrium in the face of conflicting behaviors or beliefs. Cognitive dissonance theory (1957) holds that there are predictable responses that shape individual’s experience of discomfort or dissonance. Festinger advanced that if the new events or information support the pre-held beliefs, then the individual feels supported as the fresh stimuli is in harmony with the individual’s prior knowledge, referred to as a state of consonance. Individuals may accept the information as accurate but decline to make changes; individuals may also accept the information as accurate and make appropriate changes (Festinger 12). Similarly, individuals may attack the messenger as incredible, or rationalize the information in a manner that relieves the discomfort. The theory of cognitive dissonance in communication purposes that a communicator carries around a wealthy assortment of cognitive elements such as attitudes, knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors. Cognitions, in this case, detail bits of knowledge in their simplest form pertaining variety of thoughts, facts, attitudes, behaviors, perceptions, emotions, and values. Thus, people experience the pressure to change when undertaking things that they know are uncomfortable for them. What is consonant or dissonant for one individual may not necessarily be the case for another person. This hinges fundamentally on what is consistent or inconsistent within an individual’s psychological system. The cognitive elements that people hold act as an interrelated system whereby every element (cognitions) relate to one another in three ways; null or irrelevant, consistent or consonant, and dissonant/inconsistent relationship (Festinger 14). Cognitive system in this case represents a multifaceted interrelating set of beliefs, values, and attitudes that influence and affect behavior. When dissonance occurs, individuals may change their behavior, justify their behavior by altering the conflicting cognition, or justify their behavior by adding fresh cognitions. Festinger noted that the experience of dissonance hinges on three factors; the number of consonant elements, the number of dissonant elements, and the significance of each element (Perry 154). A significant dissonant belief results to a considerable cognitive dissonant compared to a less significant dissonant belief. Dissonance produces a tension or stress, which in turn creates pressure to change whereby the higher the dissonance, the higher the pressure to change. Tension reduction is automatically pursued by altering one’s evaluations by a certain degree. An individual opts to downplay the other so as to assure him/herself. In instances where there is dissonance, individuals attempt to minimize it, besides tending to avoid circumstances that cause additional dissonance. Leon Festinger (1919-1990) Leon Festinger was a social psychologist who advanced that individuals often experience a distressing mental state when they undertake things that contradict their opinions, or what they know. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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